Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Government and Girls Aloud star back under-18 tan ban


Girls Aloud singer Nicola Roberts said it was beyond belief girls as young as 11 were in salons unsupervised

A Welsh MP's bid to ban sunbed use by under-18s in tanning salons is being backed by the government and a star of one of the UK's biggest pop bands.

Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan's private member's bill is also supported by Nicola Roberts of Girls Aloud, who spoke at the bill's launch later.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the scientific evidence of harm to skin and the link to skin cancer was clear.

Ms Morgan hopes the bill can become law before the next general election.

A Cancer Research UK report, commissioned by the government, found 6% of children aged 11 to 17 had used a sunbed, with the figure rising to 11% in the north of England.

Singer Roberts, 24, is making a documentary about the dangers of the tanning industry.

She said unless politicians went to the streets in working class areas and they wouldn't understand the "unbelievable pressure" on young girls and women about how they looked.

The singer said a recent trip to her home city of Liverpool left her shocked after she realised how many young girls were using sunbeds.

She said: "Going into the streets of Liverpool and interviewing the young girls who are obsessed with having a tan and feeling like they had to be brown to be seen as attractive, that whole mentality that they had gathered was just a bigger problem than I ever thought it was."

She said she had "learned to love" her pale skin after years of using fake tan to match her more tanned bandmates.

Ms Morgan said she was delighted to have Mr Burnham's support for the bill, which would affect Wales and England.

Gemma Merna
When I was younger I just wanted to look tanned and to fit in with everyone and didn't give any thought to the risks I was taking
Gemma Merna, Hollyoaks actress

Scotland banned the use of sunbeds by under-18s in December.

"It's a bill that's urgently needed. If you get backing from the secretary of state there's that much more chance we'll get it through.

"It's absolutely great," she said.

Ms Morgan also wants to see the use of sunbeds for adults supervised. At present it is not illegal to operate unattended salons.

Change of heart

She said the campaign had cross-party as well as public support.

However, she admitted: "It will still be tough for a private member's bill to get through."

The bill is being launched by Ms Morgan and Cancer Research UK and will have its second reading on 29 January.

Hollyoaks actress Gemma Merna, a former teenage sunbed user herself, has had a change of heart on artificial tanning and is supporting the bill.

The 25-year-old, who plays Carmel Valentine in the Channel 4 soap, said: "I started to use sunbeds once or twice a week with my friends when I was 15 but never realised the risks that I was putting my skin through just to get the perfect tan.

"When I was younger I just wanted to look tanned and to fit in with everyone and didn't give any thought to the risks I was taking.

"I now realise the damage that sunbeds can do and support any move to ban them to under-18s."

Nicola Roberts, Julie Morgan MP, Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP and Sian James MP
Nicola Roberts, Julie Morgan MP, Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP and Sian James MP at the launch at Westminster

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The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Wales Online Cardiff MP Julie Morgan worries that bill for safer sunbeds may be blocked - 3 hrs ago
Yorkshire Post Girls aged under 18 shouldn't be allowed to use sunbeds, says star - 3 hrs ago
South Wales Guardian Nicola Roberts backs sunbed ban - 11 hrs ago
Sky News Celebrities Back Sunbed Ban Call - 15 hrs ago

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